Sochi answers: Why do curlers scream?

Sochi answers: Why do curlers scream?

Is that a bar fight? A Nascar race? An unusually aggressive pep rally?
No — It’s Olympic curling! And there is screaming. So much screaming. Why? Well, it’s simply how teammates communicate with each other as they guide the stones, sweep by sweep, to the bulls-eye.

But, for some, that's not immediately apparent:

To understand the method behind the mayhem, one must first know the rules of curling. For starters, players aim to direct heavy, granite stones across a sheet of textured ice toward a target area called the house. (Consider curling a distant cousin of shuffleboard.) Two teams, each with four players, take turns sliding the stones — also called “rocks” —toward the target. Each team has eight stones per end, which is curling's version of, say, a baseball inning. There are 10 ends in a tournament-style game.

That makes for about an hour of screaming. (Learn more with our viewers' guide.)

Usually, the team captain — known in the curling world as the skip — is calling the shots, yelling the commands. They must project to be heard down the ice.

[ Related: Here are the 'Men of Curling' ]

The U.S. women’s team made a handy explainer video that parodies the popular Ylvis song and answers the age-old question: What does the skip say?

 In an NBC interview before the Sochi Games, U.S. skips Erika Brown and Pete Fenson explained some of their most-yelled commands:

  • “Whoa! WHOA!” means stop

  • “Right off!” also means stop.

  • “Hard!” is short and literal: Sweep harder!

  • “Right up!” also means, “Sweep hard.”

  • “Yup!”  basically means, “Sweep! Sweep away!”

Of course, different teams speak different languages. But some things are universal:

“With the intensity of my voice, you can see….they’ll sweep accordingly," Fenson said.

He laughed, adding, “There’s a lot of terms.”

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